Learn To Make Your Own Sausage and Salumi In Italy

How To Make Your Own Sausage & Salumi In Italy
At The CIBO- Culinary Institute of Bologna Cooking School

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How To Make Your Own Sausage at The CIBO – Culinary Institute of Bologna

Bologna Cooking School - hands on cooking lessons for amateurs, advanced beginners, foodies and cooking classes for kids in Italy, culinary capital of Italy- Bologna- Stefano Corvucci

History of Sausage Making

The origin of meat processing is lost in antiquity but probably began when mankind learned that salt is an effective preservative. Sausage making evolved as an effort to economize and preserve meat that could not be consumed fresh at slaughter. In sausage making, quality standards are maintained while using most parts of the animal.Good sausage makers are as discriminating about what goes into  sausage as winemakers are about selecting grapes. Early sausage makers found that a wide range of raw ingredients could be used.

The primary ingredients of sausage were the parts of the animal carcasses that could not be used in other ways. Today many primal parts are used in the production of sausage; however, the less tender cuts, organ meats are ground,  spiced and cased.  The procedure of stuffing meat into casings remains basically the same today, but sausage recipes have been greatly refined and sausage making has become a highly respected culinary art. Any product can be made from a wide range of raw materials exposed to rather extreme conditions of temperature and time schedules and be consumer acceptable.  Sausage grew in popularity and brought fame and fortune to many sausage makers and to various cities. Today more than 250 varieties are sold, and many of these can be traced back to the town and country of origin.

The contemporary role of sausage fits conveniently into our modern  lifestyles as an elegant appetizer for entertaining as well as the main  course in “quick-and-easy” meals. Furthermore, sausages are a relatively safe product to consume because of the added effects of salt, pH, cure, drying and cooking to preserve the product and eliminate harmful bacteria.  Sausage is a convenient food available in a great number of varieties and flavors. Sausages are an excellent source of high quality protein, containing all the essential amino acids in appropriate amounts necessary for growth, maintenance and repair of body tissue. Sausage also provides significant amounts of vitamins and minerals.


It only requires a grinder, a good meat thermometer and some general household items to make excellent sausage. If you do not have a grinder, you can purchase ground meat from the store. Many products do not need to be smoked, but liquid smoke can be added to give the smoky flavor desired, or you may add a small portion of a cooked, smoked product like bacon to produce the smoky flavor.

You can purchase a household smoker or make one. An old refrigerator converted to a smokehouse works quite well if you need to smoke the product. Smokehouses can be as simple as a tarp covering or as sophisticated as a commercial unit. Plans for smokehouses are available from the Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, North Dakota State University, Box  5626, Fargo, ND 58105 (Phone 231-7261).

Grinding and mixing

For safety, keep the temperature of the meat as cold as possible during grinding and mixing. The usual procedure is to grind the  various meats coarsely and then add the rest of the ingredients,  mixing thoroughly. A slurry is made of the spices and salt using two cups of water. (Water is added to dissolve the curing ingredients, to facilitate the mixing and to give the products their characteristic texture and taste.

The product is then ground again to the desired consistency. Mixing should be done before the final grind. Grinding improves the uniformity of the product by distributing the ingredients and making the particles the same size. Unless you have special equipment, it is desirable to work with small batches (up to 25 pounds) so the cure and seasoning can be more evenly distributed. If you  don’t have a grinder, buy ground meats, add the seasonings and mix thoroughly by hand.


It is not necessary to stuff fresh sausage meat. It can be left in bulk form or made into patties. Most sausage, however, is made by placing the ground ingredients in some type of forming device to give them shape and hold them together for thermal processing. The casing materials may be natural or manufactured. Natural casings are the gastrointestinal tracts of cattle, sheep and hogs. Generally, hog casings are the most suitable for home use and work quite well for Polish and breakfast-type sausages. They are digestible and are very permeable to moisture and smoke.All casings preserved in salt must be soaked in lukewarm water.


Sausage making is a continuous sequence of events.   Each step in the proper sequence is important to a successful operation.  It is not practical to consider each step separately or to assign more importance to one phase or operation, but for convenience and illustration, we can break sausage production down into four basic processes: selecting ingredients, grinding and mixing, stuffing, and  thermal processing  for at least 30 minutes before use. Flush each casing under cold water, running cold water through the casing. This removes excess salt from the casing. Unused casings can be drained, covered with salt and frozen.Fibrous casings are more suitable for summer sausage and similar products because of their greater strength and the variety of sizes available. They are permeable  to smoke and moisture and can easily be removed from the finished product. These casings should be soaked before use in 80 to 100 F water for at least 30 minutes, but not more than four hours before use.

If the casings are not pre-stuck they should be punctured with a knife point or pin to eliminate air and fat pockets in the finished sausage.Collagen casings contain the attributes of both natural and fibrous casings. They have been developed primarily for use in products such as fresh pork sausage and pepperoni sticks. They are uniform in size, relatively strong and easy to handle. These casings also are used for the manufacture of dry sausages, because they are permeable and will shrink.

For cooked products that are generally water-cooked (like braunschweiger), plastic casings impermeable to water are used. Thermal processing  Sausage is smoked and heated in order to pasteurize it and extend its shelf life, as well as to impart a smoky flavor and improve its appearance. Smoking and heating also fixes the color and causes protein to move to the surface of the sausage so it will hold its shape when the casing is removed.

A few products, such as mettwurst, are smoked with a minimum of heating and are designed to be cooked at the time of consumption. Others, such as liver sausage, are cooked but not smoked. Procedure for smoking polish sausage: After stuffing in hog casings (pre-flushed), let hang and dry. Smoke at 120 F for one hour, 150 F for one more hour, then at 170 F for two hours or until an internal  temperature of 141 F is reached. Remove from smokehouse and spray with hot water for 15 to 30 seconds.

Follow with cold shower or dip in a slush tank until internal temperature reaches 100 F. Let dry for one to two hours. Place in a cooler.  Procedure for smoking summer sausage: After stuffing in casing, smoke at 140 F for one hour, 160 F for one more hour, then at 180 F for two hours or until the internal temperatures reach 155 F. Remove from the smokehouse and follow the same procedure as for other sausages.F.  A thermometer is essential for obtaining proper temperature. The water should not boil, as this will ruin the product. If you are making a sausage product using cooked meat, be sure the meat was cooked with low heat.

Food Safety Guidelines

Bacteria can spread throughout a work area and contaminate equipment and work surfaces. To reduce your risk of foodborne illness:

•Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water before beginning to work and after changing tasks or after doing anything that could contaminate your hands such as sneezing or using the bathroom.

•Start with clean equipment and clean thoroughly after using. Be sure all surfaces that come into contact with meat are clean.

•Sanitize surfaces with a solution of 1 tablespoon chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Allow to air dry.

•If using frozen meat in sausage formulations, thaw it in a cooler on the lowest shelf to avoid dripping of juices on ready-to-eat foods.  Keep raw meat separate from other foods

•Marinate raw meat in the refrigerator.•Keep meat as cold as possible (40 F or lower) during processing.

•If dehydrating meat, don’t rely on the dial settings. Measure the temperature of the dehydrator with a calibrated thermometerGo To the Culinary Institute of Bologna For Foodies located in downtown Bologna to learn more about great cooking classes in Italy.Learn other great Italian cooking secrets at the CIBO.  List of courses.

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